Selesnya In Pauper: Slinging Commons Sans Silver And Gold
Selesnya! The Conclave! What is good for one of them is good for all of them...and if you're not with them well watch out. When green and white get together it is best to expect a fight especially in Pauper. White is the color of armies and small creatures whereas green is the color of nature. In Limited this is reflected by giving these colors many creatures as well as cards that help improve the critters. In Pauper this means if you are green and white you are attacking often without abandon (which happens to be the red side of green). The successful Selesnya decks in Pauper revolve around one of two concepts: build an army or make a monster.
One of the first best decks of sanctioned Pauper was Slivers. The deck operated on a very simple principle: every one of their creatures was going to make the creatures that came before it much better. Being able to run eight "Honor of the Pure" effects (Muscle Sliver and Sinew Sliver) helped tremendously and many decks ran Virulent Sliver as a way to poison opponents before infect was a mechanic. The deck has never truly disappeared and still puts up 3-1 and 4-0 finishes in Daily Events on Magic Online to this day.
- 4 Muscle Sliver
- 4 Plated Sliver
- 4 Quick Sliver
- 4 Sidewinder Sliver
- 4 Sinew Sliver
- 3 Spinneret Sliver
- 2 Standard Bearer
- 3 Talon Sliver
- 4 Virulent Sliver
This deck is built to punch you in the face. The Selesnya philosophy of together we are stronger is clearly present in this deck as everything stacks nicely to make an army of monsters that just cannot be blocked easily in combat. But the deck is also smart. Quick Sliver can set up a combat where you sneak in a Virulent Sliver to deal extra poison (poisonous works different than infect—for each instance of poisonous the creature will give a damaged player an poison counter so two Virulent Slivers in play means all Slivers will give two counters once they connect) for the win or a Talon Sliver to take out key blockers or maybe you just flash in a Muscle Sliver for the win. Even the sideboard is built to win brawls with Thrill of the Hunt.
Slivers perhaps best embodies the Selesnya Conclave as not only does each member make the others stronger but they share the collective conscience (flavor alert) of the Sliver Queen (who sadly cannot make an appearance on the Pauper table). However Slivers was held in check by the rise of Mono-Black Control and the prevalence of Crypt Rats and other removal. No matter how hard Slivers tried it could not succeed against decks that were packed to the gills with cards the read "destroy target creature." In Slivers' place however a new deck rose to carry the Conclave's banner: Cloak.
Named for Armadillo Cloak Cloak decks sought to stick the namesake aura on either a Silhana Ledgewalker or Guardian of the Guildpact presenting a large hard to solve threat. These servants of the Conclave would then bash in for large amounts of damage often putting a life total out of reach and ending the game in short order. Over the years many creatures have made appearances in the deck including:
Naya Hushblade: Slap a Cloak on this creature and you have a real monster.
Recently Cloak has seen play as part of a more dedicated hexproof/auras deck somewhat reminiscent of the Bant Spirits deck from Pro Tour Dark Ascension:
The concept remains the same: stick a hard to kill creature and load it up with all the pants it can wear (which is apparently quite a few pairs of pants). Return to Ravnica gives this deck a new option in the form of Ethereal Armor a cheaper alternative to Ancestral Mask.
This strategy sadly is soft to many decks in the format. Many black lists have returned to some number of Crypt Rats which can wipe out a team in one swoop. Delver with its Spellstutter Sprites and Counterspells can keep key auras from sticking. Izzet Post can simply go bigger drawing cards and ending the game with a large Rolling Thunder or causing a headache with an Ulamog's Crusher. Finally two of the combo decks of Pauper (Empty the Warrens and Grapeshot) can all but ignore everything Cloak does. Perhaps though this can be remedied.
One reason that White Weenie is a successful deck currently is that it provides threats that are more than one creature (Doomed Traveler Squadron Hawk Loyal Cathar) as a way to frustrate opponents. While Armadillo Cloak does not want to be placed on a creature that dies Rancor has no such problem. With the addition of Selesnya Guildgate and access to Avacyn's Pilgrim and Safewright Quest having the right mana should not be too big an issue. An updated Aura Aggro list might look something like this:
- 2 Aura Gnarlid
- 4 Avacyn's Pilgrim
- 3 Bant Sureblade
- 4 Doomed Traveler
- 2 Naya Hushblade
- 4 Silhana Ledgewalker
- 4 Skarrgan Pit-Skulk
- 4 Squadron Hawk
This is a jump off point for a new take on attacking with auras. The idea is to play some of those hard to solve creatures and also ways to take advantage of all the auras you're going to be casting. Hyena Umbra also lets you keep an important creature around while also adding to Ethereal Armor's strength. Khalni Garden is a nice "one-drop" that carries a Rancor rather well. At first glance this deck will have problems with certain limiting factors of the format (combo for example) but a tuned version could carry on the cause of the Conclave.
The final entry in the competitive Conclave cache had its start as a dominant deck in Ravnica-Time Spiral Pauper Standard player run events. Saps as the deck was known was based around pumping out an army of Saproling tokens while gaining an obscene amount of life with Soul Warden and Essence Warden. Finally the deck would use Pallid Mycoderm and gain access to an instant speed Overrun effect. The deck never gained a firm foothold in Classic Pauper but recently occasional Pauper ringer deluxeicoff brought the Fungus army back and gained some followers to his cause.
- 2 Essence Warden
- 4 Pallid Mycoderm
- 4 Selesnya Evangel
- 4 Soul Warden
- 3 Soul's Attendant
- 3 Suture Priest
- 4 Veteran Armorer
Saps is highly redundant and capable of explosive starts. Convoke combined with token makers allows the deck to gum up the ground while also threatening to swing with an impressive force. Veteran Armorer and Spidersilk Armor both serve the purpose of keeping the Fungal army alive but it is possible that Rootborn Defenses is a better fit currently at least in part. It is also possible that this deck could want Strength in Numbers as a way to punch through in true creature-ball fashion.
There is one Selesnya combo that I am asked about more than any other: Presence of Gond and Midnight Guard. When the Guard is blessed with the Presence it can create an arbitrarily large number of Elf tokens. The largest problem with this combo is that both pieces cost three and it does not win on the turn the combo goes off. The tools required to make the deck viable—cheap protection Tutoring and acceleration—are unlikely to exist at common at any point soon. Until that point the Midnight Gond combo will be a pipe dream (even if the sewers of Ravnica are tended to by the Golgari).
The Selesnya Conclave is the guild of the masses and its decks reflect that. They are based around creatures and overwhelming an opponent's defenses. What is good for one member of the army tends to be good for them all. If your adversary plays a Forest and then a Plains be prepared—there is a mob coming your way.
Keep slingin' commons-
SpikeBoyM on Magic Online
The Colors of Pauper:
I am Golgari. Maybe it's because I loved watching people play Recurring Nightmare and Survival of the Fittest side by side or someone beat down with a Blastoderm while removing a blocker with a Snuff Out (free thanks to Bayou). Maybe it's because I love eking out every ounce of value from my cards. I'm Golgari through and through and will always look for a way to play my Swamps next to my Forests (and find the best serving of vegetarian brains out there).